Sermon on the Sidewalk

Colorful real-life stories of kids, family and an extraordinarily ordinary, everyday kind of faith.

Posts tagged ‘Families’

Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. —Luke 11:1

IMG_7503If you’re a fan of comic books or superheroes you might visit the Superhero Database. This entertaining collection of favorite (and not so favorite) superheroes, villains, and superpowers is worth a look, but Jesus is missing. So are other superheroes of faith, like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Esther. You’re name isn’t there. Neither is mine. And there’s no mention of God’s powerful gift of prayer.

Last summer I read a post by Sam Williamson, introducing his book, “I Wonder If Sunday School is Destroying Our Kids.” Williamson zeros in on something he calls the “counterfeit gospel of pack-mule-moralism.” The article went into my urgent file. Not because what’s in the article is news to me, but because it’s news to so many. “The Wonder of the gospel is not the love of the beautiful; it’s when Beauty kisses the Beast.” We come as we are to church. God loves us as God’s perfectly imperfect creation. We’re all superheroes, transformed by God’s radical love, and gifted with super powers of prayer.

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Super Powers of Prayer

Like many thriving congregations, Edina Community Lutheran provides milestone opportunities for grafting children into the life of the church; encouraging families to keep the promises of baptism. This month’s faith milestone is an opportunity for kids and families to explore the wonder of the gospel and the super powers of prayer. Together, we string prayer beads, write the prayers for the day, and experience different ways to pray, including a superhero prayer that teaches:

IMG_7518In Practice

Introduce families to contemplative prayer. Some may already be familiar with the rosary, or other practices of using beaded strings or tied knots. Anglican prayer beads are a wonderful tool for kids and adults, inviting all ages of prayers into real-life encounters with God; keeping our hands busy and our hearts and minds focused. I recommend using large colorful beads and tipped beading cord for kids:

  1. Prepare kits that include our superhero prayer beads (PDF) guide and (1) cross-shaped bead, (1) large invitatory bead, (4) large cruciform beads, (28) medium weeks beads, and cording that can be easily beaded by children.
  2. Demonstrate how to make prayer beads, step by step: Begin by folding the cord in half and beading your cross. Next add the invitatory bead and first cruciform bead to both cords. The remaining beads are added to a single cord (half the beads on each side), securing the fourth cruciform bead by threading both ends of the cord through its middle and tying a strong knot.
  3. Teach the Sign of the Cross, Lord’s Prayer, and A.C.T.S Prayer while praying through one of the four group of weeks. There are other prayers available online at pintrest and elsewhere, to use with your Anglican prayer beads.
  4. A Super Powers of Prayer event might also integrate Super Power fun, super powers prayers, the Superman Table Prayer, and signing the Lord’s Prayer.

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Baptized Lutheran, confirmed Catholic and serving in the church for over 20 years, I’ve folded my share of crosses on Palm Sunday.

Over the years I’ve also collected many different palm folding activity sheets for kids and families to follow, but none of them showed the way I was originally taught. So when I found a YouTube video that demonstrated what I think has always been the easiest and best way to fold palm crosses, I wanted to share it.

We have a Palm Sunday Fair coming up next weekend. Together with the YouTube video and a bowl filled with sample crosses, the pictures will make it easier for everyone to participate in this fun and long-held tradition. Folding palms is a meaningful way to participate in the Easter story and Jesus’ welcome into Jerusalem.

There’s a blizzard outside today, so the “green grass” smell of fresh palm leaves has been both a blessing and a joy.

Let me know if you think you have an easier or better way, or if you find this post helpful in your own ministry at church or at home.

7 Easy-Step Instructions:

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Step 1. Trim a single palm at both ends

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Step 2. Fold the palm in half and cut into two pieces

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Step 3. Fold one piece over the other 3 times

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Step 4. Fold the piece you just folded over once

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Step 5. Insert the wider of your two pieces through the center and pull tight to form a 90 degree angle

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Step 6. To make the horizontal length of the cross, insert one side at a time through the center and adjust

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Step 7. To make the vertical length of the cross, insert the remaining piece through the center and adjust

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One way to remember the 7 steps is:

cut, cut / fold in half / cut the half

fold 3 / fold 1 / lock

horizontal 1, 2

vertical

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Their baptism should have been called to their minds again and again, and their faith constantly awakened and nourished. For just as the truth of this divine promise, once pronounced over us, continues until death, so our faith in it ought never to cease, but to be nourished and strengthened until death by the continual remembrance of this promise made to us in baptism. For the truth of the promise once made remains steadfast, always ready to receive us back with open arms when we return. LW 36:59

Carolyn Rondthaler's Labyrinth 1 My Journey

A labyrinth isn’t a maze. There is no map. Just one path from beginning to end and back again. It meets us where we are and invites us on a journey. We return to the same place we started but different.

Sounds a little like the Christian faith and our own personal journeys, from the ashes of our human condition to the hope we have in the resurrection. In last year’s Easter message, Bishop Hanson shared, “The risen Christ goes ahead of us … so that we can embrace life’s complexities and uncertainties with a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.” This has also been my experience of the labyrinth.

I’ve been asked to create a labyrinth with families who have kids in grades 6-12 during a Lenten retreat. Together we’re going to learn the difference between a maze and a labyrinth; explore the idea of creating a labyrinth that takes us on a journey beginning with God’s gift of baptism; and have fun getting to know one another while painting and walking a one-of-a-kind hand painted 20 x 20 labyrinth we can experience for years to come!

I like the idea of a labyrinth we get to create together; one that awakens, nourishes and connects us together in faith. Martin Luther reminds me to say the words “I am baptized,” rather than “I was baptized.” There are many different types of labyrinths and different ways of experiencing each one. During our time together I’ll share some of these with the group. The intention though is that this labyrinth-making experience will remind participants of God’s steadfast promise and offer a new tool for “walking wet” every day.

Everyone will get a copy of our completed labyrinth design in the form of a finger labyrinth. The nice thing about a finger labyrinth (also called “troy stones” when they’re carved out of wood, sculpted from clay or sewn using fabric) is that it can be experienced almost anytime and anywhere. Labyrinths printed on paper can be filled with mindful messages or meditations, colored or painted, similar to Carolyn Rondthaler’s amazing art pictured above.

There are many excellent online labyrinth locators, labyrinths available for purchase and creative ideas for making your own labyrinth. The Labyrinth Society has 2 labyrinths on their website you can download and print from home: Classical Labyrinth and Chartres Labyrinth

I’m excited to be able to share a video of our community and “almost” completed labyrinth making experience. Have you ever thought of creating your own labyrinth as part of a confirmation retreat? You might want to! ECLC Retreat: Labyrinth Making Video!

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